Dementia Drugs Side Effects

5 Common Side Effects of Popular Dementia Drugs

Drug side effects can be highly individual: What one person experiences can be different from what someone else taking the same medication experiences at the same dose. Factors include personal metabolism, size, and genetics; other chronic health conditions; and other medications being taken.

Common side effects of medications currently approved by the FDA for dementia include these:

Nausea. This may be the most common effect reported. Gradually raising dosage is one way doctors try to avoid this. Formulations with once-a-day dosing (such as Aricept) also tend to produce fewer side effects. Razadyne is taken with food, which can minimize gastrointestinal problems.

Dizziness. This symptom is especially associated with Namenda, a drug for later-stage dementia, but it can occur in anyone beginning any new med.

Fainting. A 2009 Canadian study found that slowed heart rate caused by cholinesterase inhibitors (such as Aricept, Exelon, and Razadyne) led to hospitalizations for fainting twice as often as among older adults with dementia who were not on such meds.

Weight loss, weight gain. This effect can vary as appetite is affected. Someone experiencing nausea and diarrhea, for example, is at higher risk of losing weight.

Headache/other pain. Also watch for changes in vision, stomach pain, heartburn.

Report any adverse symptoms to the doctor when beginning a new medication, especially if they last more than a few days. Most bothersome symptoms disappear as the body adjusts to a particular dosage, although some may remain throughout the course of the medication.


over 2 years ago, said...

My husband took Namenda XR for 10 months and then began having nightmares 3 to 4 times a week. I did some research online and discovered nightmares occur most in the 60+ year age group taking Namenda. My husband is 62. The doctor took him off of it. My husband has been taking Aricept since he was diagnosed and is still doing well with it.


about 3 years ago, said...

My dad 87 has been on EXECLON patch for almost a year now. he has seen the doctor twice and is stable! I have to believe the meds are helping! He tried Aricept pills first but had bad headaches so we switched to the patch! This disease sucks!


over 3 years ago, said...

I was wondering if the drugs were doing my husband any good and am going to discuss taking him off. His eating is horrific and he has gained a lot of weight. Thank you, Mariannef


almost 4 years ago, said...

i have a friend with alzheimers and this has been helpful-He is in a memory care facility.


about 4 years ago, said...

My husband started on Aricept, but stomach problems resulted. A switch to the Exelon patch has served well for the past 4 years. Even with the meds, there is gradual slippage of memory. We stopped the Exelon while in the hospital a year ago, and the change was marked, and immediate. Went back on the medicine!


about 4 years ago, said...

Just knowing the side effects help confirm my decision not to pursue their use.


over 4 years ago, said...

It was good but it could have been a little more specific as relates to dosages and what medications work well together.


about 5 years ago, said...

Dizziness....My husband is not in the late stages according to his doctor and I agree he is not. I cannot apply this knowledge without some doubt since my husband has had occasional bouts of Vertigo without Namenda in the past few years.Thank you for this article. I'll remember it when dizziness is once again a factor.


over 5 years ago, said...

common se mention that affect my recovery from sustaining 3 SEVERE TBIs and 2 week coma after struck by car vs pedestrian. Notice similar SE while taking aricept beganing of rehab. SE vs complication of head brain injury. Better now d/c'd RX. sTILL short term memory recall doifficulty but less ALZHEIMER or dementia issues. Age 58 when injury now will be 60 yo in 4 months. Potential for developing ALZHEIMERS OR dementia is great. Article thus relevant.


over 5 years ago, said...

My mom has taken both Aricept and Namenda. She was diagnosed in 1998 and is now in the end stages of Alzheimers. I believe her longevity has been the result of proper medication, diet, nutritional supplements and a caring medical team. I am also grateful to CarePro in Arizona for helping me to learn to become a better caregiver.


over 5 years ago, said...

My brother was on 10 mg of Aricept, incresed it to 23 mg, then at the same he was put on Namanda. It helpd to to understand the side effects &r e think if want him on thses meds.